Main photo by Rob Brazier
Here’s 5 things you need to know about British wrestling this week.
1) A new champion beat the odds at PROGRESS.
When the dust cleared after Sunday’s momentous chapter at the Electric Ballroom in Camden, Pastor William Eaver – a ProJo graduate who only made his main roster debut a little over a year ago – was PROGRESS champion. Eaver won the Natural Progression Series, which carries with it a title shot, and although it had been previously stated that it wasn’t a “cash in” affair there were few complaints among the 700 in attendance.
Pastor William Eaver, new PROGRESS champion – photo by Daniel Richardson
Eaver came down to the ring to lift a deflated crowd, with negative chants ringing loud after Marty Scurll had once again cheated to retain his title over Tommy End. PROGRESS co-owner Jim Smallman had already re-started the match once and it seemed there was little to be done to end The Villain’s reign of terror. Cue the Man of God. While an elated crowd made their way out of the Ballroom, Scurll attacked PROGRESS co-owner Glen Joseph backstage and has been “rewarded” with a re-match against Eaver at July’s Malice In Wonderland…
Eaver’s win wasn’t the only magic moment on a show which didn’t promise to be all that memorable going in. Mark Haskins answered an open challenge laid by Johnny Gargano for the latter’s Smash Wrestling title, and Haskins – who received a rapturous reception – came away with the title and the cheers of the crowd ringing in his ears, and was the recipient of an endorsement by the former champ.
While the ovations for Eaver & Haskins were hugely positive, the heat on Zack Gibson – who replaced his Origin teammate Dave Mastiff in an Atlas Division tag-team match, pairing with T-Bone against Big Daddy Walter & Iestyn Rees – was anything but, and Gibson is fast becoming PROGRESS’s number one bad guy.
Damon Moser takes his punishment – photo by Rob Brazier
Also on the show, Rampage Brown beat Trent Seven (a late replacement for an injured Big Damo) in a slobberknocker, TK Cooper defeated Jack Sexsmith with help from fellow Kiwi Travis Banks, Nathan Cruz pinned Damon Moser, and the war between Jinny & Laura Di Matteo – the former Elizabeth – escalated with a post-match beatdown by Jinny after Di Matteo had gotten the win over her former boss. This show – along with all past PROGRESS shows – will soon be available on Demand PROGRESS, and the promotion return to Camden on July 31st.
2) First there was a .gif & then there was a tweet.
Now there’s a match. Yes, the feud that began on social media, escalated on social media, and then seemingly fizzled out on social media, has leapt into the real world, and Will Ospreay versus Vader will happen for Revolution Pro-Wrestling at a mid-summer (rather than autumn) Uprising at the York Hall on August 12th.
The feud arose when a .gif of the opening exchanges of Ospreay’s Best Of The Super Juniors match with Ricochet somehow made its way to Vader’s timeline. The former WCW & IWGP heavyweight champion didn’t much like what he saw, and took to describing it as “blatant acrobatics” and claiming nothing done in the clip “relates to winning.” The two went back and forth, with a playful Ospreay winding up the curmudgeonly veteran – including Ospreay performing a Vader Bomb in a tour match – until the youngster made it known that, if circumstances allowed, he would actually love to face the Mastodon.
Never one to look a cash-stuffed gift horse in the mouth, RevPro promoter Andy Quildan booked the match, and it will headline the company’s third York Hall show in as many months, no doubt backed by a solid undercard as usual. The match has split opinion amongst commentators but as Kurt Angle versus Zack Sabre Jr showed, there is a market for such attractions, and if anyone can make a decent match of it, Ospreay is in the form of his life. Tickets are already on sale but for those of you who can’t travel the show will be available on RevPro’s On Demand service. RevPro return to the Cockpit in Marylebone this Sunday, before next weekend’s huge Summer Sizzler.
3) Noam Dar shined on iPPV.
Although it wasn’t the first British wrestling show to be broadcast on iPPV, last week’s Tribute To The Troops 3 – presented by Preston City Wrestling – was the first for some time and, at an attractive price, garnered some attention from non-PCW diehards ahead of their Supershow Of Honor later this year. That show, held in association with Ring Of Honor, will be of interest to wrestling fans worldwide, and so Tribute… was perhaps the right time, and right product to use as a test.
The show had a different flavour to the usual PCW affairs at the adults-only Evoque nightclub, but still featured the PCW regulars and two PCW title matches, as well as former-WWE stars to pull in the casual fans.
The show was main-evented by a PCW Heavyweight title match between Sha Samuels and challenger Drew Galloway, which – after interference from Samuels’s cohorts in the Firm – was made no DQ by heel general manager Joanna Rose, and this allowed Samuels to win with shenanigans. PCW owner Steven Fludder declared that the result must stand but ordered an immediate re-match, and added Noam Dar (who was robbed of a title win earlier this month) to the mix, with Dar winning by submission to become the 14th PCW Heavyweight champion.
Rob Van Dam photo by Gordon Harris
Also defended on the show were Team Single’s tag-team titles, and Rampage Brown & T-Bone saw off The London Riots to maintain their 3 YEAR stranglehold on the belts. They may face a challenge from the UK Hooligans, who beat The New Age Assholes – an unique PCW team-up of Billy Gunn & Mr Anderson – in a comedy-filled bout which pleased many of the younger members of the audience. The show – which also featured Rob van Dam, Bubblegum, Martin Kirby, Charlie Garrett, Joe Hendry & Toni Storm – is available to order on DVD, and PCW are in Blackpool this weekend, at Club Domain.
4) Gallagher, Dunne, Haskins all get chance at BOLA.
With this year’s edition being the 12th annual event, Pro-Wrestling Guerilla’s Battle Of Los Angeles is a firm fixture in any wrestling fan’s calendar. Rounding up 24 of the best non-WWE talent, the three-day tournament was won last year by Zack Sabre Jr, and really announced his new focus after a sojourn in Pro-Wrestling NOAH.
Also along for the ride last year were Mark Andrews, Marty Scurll, Tommy End, and Will Ospreay, and you could argue that his performances in Reseda – alongside his standout tussle with Kazuchika Okada for RevPro in Reading – earned Ospreay the chance to spread his wings further afield, resulting in a New Japan Best Of The Super Juniors win and 2 IWGP Junior Heavyweight title shots.
For this year’s tournament, Andrews & End return, and the European quotient is maintained by the addition of 3 talents new to PWG, if not to the US indy scene. New Smash Wrestling champion Mark Haskins was named as the number 4 entrant in the tournament, and he’ll be keen to get back to wowing US audiences after his short, unspectacular TNA stint a few years ago, and he was joined at number 6 by Pete Dunne.
Dunne, the reigning RevPro Cruiserweight champion, has some US experience with Chikara, amongst others, and has also toured Japan with Michinoku-Pro. One of 2016’s biggest climbers, he’ll be out to cement the reputation that saw him get a shot at qualifying for WWE’s Global Cruiserweight Classic.
The man who beat Dunne for that spot in the CWC, Jack Gallagher, was named as the 12th entrant in the tournament, and will make his non-WWE US debut for PWG, although he does also have experience in Japan for Zero-1, Big Japan, and Noah. Like Dunne, Gallagher is having a breakout year, showing a decade of hard work and perseverance can pay off in the right way for the right talent. The Battle Of Los Angeles starts on September 3rd and will be available to watch on DVD after the usual break for editing or whatever it is takes PWG so long.
Clint Margera photo by Wozza
5) BAM! Margera won the Kamikaze title (and other stuff).
Celebrating their 3rd anniversary last weekend, Kamikaze-Pro blew the candles out with a stacked show at the Meadway Sports & Social in Birmingham, topped by a Table, Ladders & Chairs match between Robbie X and Clint Margera, which the latter won to become the new Kamikaze-Pro champion. The promotion’s other singles belt, the Relentless Division Championship, also changed hands when Tyler Bate won a four-way match, beating champion Ryan Smile, Chris Brookes & Omari, but the tag-team champions, the Hunter Brothers, held onto their belts, going to a draw with Damian Dunne & Marshall X. The show also featured Jonny Storm, Jody Fleisch, el Ligero & Lana Austin, and Kamikaze-Pro are in Rubery this Saturday, July 2nd.
Jonny Storm’s foot on the rope – photo from AWW’s website
The day before, across Birmingham in Brierley Hill, Alternative Wrestling World promoted High Stakes at the Civic Hall, and a controversy-filled main event saw AWW Academy champion Dante also win Jonny Storm’s AWW British Championship, after interference from Dante’s PL4Y stablemates. Storm actually had his foot on the rope whilst the referee counted the 3 but the official claimed he’d seen nothing and that the result stood. Opening the show, which also featured former FWA stars Brandon Thomas and Kevin O’Neil, Saul Adams defeated Matt Lightning, and AWW return in September for their 13th anniversary shows across 2 nights in Brierley Hill.
Also on Saturday night, a little further down the country, 4 Front Wrestling returned to Thatcham Catholic Hall for another of their smaller-scale shows on the road to Ultimate Supremacy in Swindon on July 9th. The Thatcham show was headlined by a 4FW Heavyweight title match between Saime Sahin & Tiger Ali – as a result of Ali interfering in Sahin’s earlier non-title match with Rob Holte – and Sahin retained his title by pinfall to go into the Swindon supershow, where he will face an opponent yet to be announced.
The show also featured Dan Moloney & Jim Hunter, and 4FW have one more show this weekend, in Saltford, before that big show on Saturday week. In other 4FW news, the promotion announced that Dick Togo would be making his UK comeback with the group, on their September supershow, against Mark Haskins. Tickets are already on sale for all these shows, and you can see the action on 4FW On Demand.